In a rare recall involving baking and cooking flour, General Mills last Tuesday voluntarily recalled 10 million pounds of flour due to potential link to an E.coli outbreak that sickened 38 from 20 states dating back to December.
The multi-state outbreak has been potentially linked to the flour maker’s Gold Medal flour, Wondra flour and Signature Kitchens flour — sold in retailers Safeway, Albertsons, Jewel, Shaws, Vons, United, Randalls and Acme.
The recalled products comprise six stock keeping units (SKUs) of Gold Medal flour, 2 SKUs of Signature Kitchens, and 1 SKU of Wondra.
In a statement, however, General Mills clarified that E.coli O121 has not been found to date in any of its flour products or its facilities, and that it has not received direct consumer reports associating any illness to its products.
State and federal health officials have been investigating 38 instances of E.coli-related sickness across 20 states from Dec. 21, 2015 to May 3, 2016, finding that about half of the individuals created something homemade using flour at some point before they became ill.
Some individuals reported using a General Mills-produced flour.
“[S]ome of the ill consumers may have also consumed raw dough or batter,” the company said in its recall announcement, reminding consumers to avoid consuming raw products made with flour.
Bacteria found in raw flour can be eliminated with cooking. Consumers, though, should wash their hands and work surfaces after coming into contact with raw dough or flour, the statement added.
The E.coli strain potentially linked to the flour products can lead to bloody diarrhea and dehydration.
Flour-linked foodborne illness outbreaks have been considered quite rare. Food safety lawyer Bill Marler told USA Today that the only other recall he could remember was last 2009, when Nestle Toll House cookie dough — specifically its flour component - was tied to a contamination issue.
Marler previously recommended avoiding certain food items causing the most cases of food poisoning.
Consumers who bought the affected products are advised to stop using them immediately. They can call 1-800-230-8103 or visit this page for further information.
The flour was said to be milled at the Kansas City, Mo. plant of General Mills, which noted that the ingredient is made via milling wheat — grown outdoors and carrying bacteria-related risks.
Photo: Jessica Spengler | Flickr